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Премия рунета 2017

WWF Russia announce the annual snow leopard census results

16 may 2018
The population of the snow leopard in key groups in Russia amounts up to 61 snow leopards including 23 cubs in 11 litters, according to latest estimates of WWF Russia

The results of the wide-scale snow leopard monitoring initiated and supported in 2018 by WWF Russia Altai-Sayan Programme, have proved that the snow leopard population has been stable in Russia for the last three years. The monitoring annually covers the areas of the Republics of Altai, Tyva and Buryatia within the boundaries of the Altai-Sayan Ecoregion, the last refuge for the rare predator in Russia.

This winter the monitoring experts covered 70% of the snow leopard habitat in Russia. According to census results, there are 63 snow leopards including 23 cubs and 40 adult individuals. The record for Russia number of cubs in one litter was registered in the Republic of Altai. The female snow leopard gave birth to four cubs. 

Natalia Dronova, WWF-Russia Species Coordinator, says: 

Today all snow leopard census in our country is initiated and supported by WWF Russia in partnership with PAS, local NGOs and local people. It’s been the third year since the Russian corporate donors supported the census, such as VTB-bank. WWF hopes that one day the Ministry of the Natural Resources of the Russian Federation will start coordinating snow leopard census on a governmental level as it happens to Amur tiger census. Meanwhile all snow leopard monitoring programe and activities are initiated and analyzed by WWF Russia with support of Russian business.
Snow leopard in Tyva Nature Park.
Bator Snow leopard male in the Republic of Buryatia
Kucheryavaya female with two cubs in Republic of Buryatia
Snow leopards captured by camera traps.
(c) Tyva Nature Park,

WWF expert use all existing monitoring techniques while doing snow leopard census such as tracking the tracks on the snow, camera-trapping, genetic analyzes.

Today the lack of the unified snow leopard monitoring for all world range is one of the major problem. We cannot assess or trustfully tell the exact number of the animals neither in the world nor in a smaller area, says Alexander Karnaukhov, the Altai-Sayan Programme Senior Coordinator.

That is why in 2015 WWF Russia developed the first draft of the monitoring programme for the elusive animal in partnership with the New-York University and Snow Leopard Conservancy called  Snow Leopard Grid. The methodology implies dividing the area into 5-km cells, scrupulous filing of the particular data tables and the computer data analyzes. Field testing of the programme have already been completed for the Republics of Altai and Buryatia in 2016 and 2018. WWF reckons that the principles of the proposed monitoring programme can be used by the other snow leopard range countries. Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan experts have already got interested in the programe.  

Sergey Malykh, the Head of Asia-Irbis Working Group during field trip in Buryatia. The snow and wind decorated the Srgey's face.
The camera trap set in Buryatia.
Maksim Maistruk, the member of Asia-Irbis Working Group, during census in Buryatia.
The rangers of he Sailugemsky National Park during snow leopard census.
Chimit Khaptagaev, a local herder of Buryatia, helps experts in monitoring.
(c) A.Kuksin. The tracks of the snow leopard in Tyva.
A.Kuksin. The chain of the snow leopard's tracks in Tyva.
The experts during field trips this winter.
(c) D.Barashkov, S.Malykh, WWF, A.Kuksin
Alexander Karnaukhov, the Altai-Sayan Programme Senior Coordinator, says: The snow leopard population has been relatively stable in Russia for the last three years since 2015 when WWF Russia initiated the first serious snow leopard census in our country. In 2017 we registered 53-56 individuals. Unfortunately all key groups of predator are vulnerable and heavily threatened. For instance, the number of the snow leopard basic prey, the Siberian Ibex, is going down everywhere, especially in the Republic of Buryatia. Poaching is wide spread and snare poaching remains common among the local people of the remote areas of Altai and Tyva. This year our monitoring group registered the strange tracks of the female snow leopard as if the animal was dragging something big behind. We presume it must have been the log tied to the snare where the animal might have got into. It was a terrifying find. Nevertheless there are positive news. Last year we registered the female with two cubs in the Ukok Plateau for the first time.
A poachers' snare discovered in Altai.
(c) L. Takhanov.

All monitoring results WWF Russia annually presents or the Ministry of the Natural Resources of the Russian Federation. WWF Russia hopes that snow leopard will once obtain governmental support and attention as well as Amur tiger.

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